GREEN BAY, WIS (WBAY)- Packers Interim Head Coach Joe Philbin has been down this road before. In his first season as Dolphins Head Coach in 2012, the final month of the season was meaningless. 6 years later, with his Packers eliminated from playoff contention with two games remaining, the message won’t change.
“Finishing is important. Doing things the right way is important,” Philbin said on Monday. “It's important to learn this not only these two games -- whatever the outcome is, the outcome is but it's a lesson for them that hopefully they can take beyond football. In life you are going to need to finish. In life you are going to have some tough things happen. Sometimes the ball doesn't always bounce your way. You can either go home and feel sorry for yourself or you can step up and do the best you can.”
For Philbin, whose shelf life in Green Bay might just be for these final two weeks, the temptation to do less is not an option. “Players or coaches, what's to say 'geez I'd like to go home tonight and not prepare as hard for this game because we are not going to the playoffs?' That is not a professional approach to the job, I don't think."
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers agrees, saying after Sunday’s game in Chicago, “we are paid to play this game and prepare. I think you set different goals, obviously, because the playoffs won't be happening."
Philbin called being a professional a global term on Monday. Left tackle David Bakhtiari has his own definition. "When I signed a contract, it didn't say play until you're not in the playoffs, whether that is 12 or 14 games. No, I get paid to play 16 and the playoffs are a bonus. So I intend on playing all 16 games and that is how everyone else should be."
If the packers need more than pride and professionalism to motivate them for Sunday’s game in New York, there is this: they have yet to win a game away from Lambeau Field, and Sunday is their final chance to avoid getting skunked on the road in a season for the first time since 1958.
“We just want to win; home away, it doesn't matter,” said Bakhtiari. “We wanted to go 4-0 under Philbin, that was our plan. Right now, we have everything in our path to make it 3-1." Added Philbin, “I think we have a really good locker room, I think they are good men and I am excited to see how they respond.”
Back to that 2012 season, Philbin’s fins were able to win two of those final 4 games after being eliminated from playoff contention.